What is Ginseng?
The term "ginseng" is derived from the Chinese term "jen-shen," which means "in the image of a man." Ginseng refers to several species of Panax of which Panax quinquefolius L., American ginseng, and Panax ginseng C.A. Mey.
Panax is derived from the Greek word meaning "panacea" or "all-healing". The species ginseng is said to mean, "wonder of the world"; both terms refer to the medicinal virtues of the plant.
There are three main species of ginseng, Oriental, Siberian and American. Oriental ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Native Americans have likewise used American ginseng for all of their recorded history.
While all three forms share many common elements, there are differences among them. Siberian ginseng is not truly ginseng at all, but rather a distant cousin to the Oriental species.
The stems, leaves, and roots of Panax species contain biologically active saponin glycosides, such as ginsenoside and panaxoside, as well as sugars, starch, mucilage, and a volatile oil. Most of the ginsenoside is located in the cambium.
Ginseng is held in high esteem because of its use as a medicinal plant. All forms of ginseng are said to aid in reducing stress, improving vitality and boosting the immune system.
As a medicinal plant, ginseng seems was used as a remedy for all ailments, including depression, diabetes, fatigue, aging, inflammations, internal degeneration, nausea, tumors, pulmonary problems, dyspepsia, vomiting, nervousness, stress and ulcers.
It has also been used to increase the appetite and bodily energy, regulate menses, ease childbirth, increase fertility of women and treat periodontal disease. Some consider it an aphrodisiac, stimulant, stomachic, and demulcent.
Ginseng roots shaped like the human body are considered highly desirable. In particular, old roots are prized because their longevity is claimed to be transferred to whomever who consumes them.
Ginseng's natural power has been known for centuries both in the Orient and by Native North American cultures. More recently, typical North Americans and Europeans have discovered the wonderful restorative and tonic properties of this ancient root.
Numerous scientific studies have shown that Canadian Ginseng is the most potent of all cultivated ginseng.
Common uses for ginseng include:
as a general tonic to aid in both mental and physical activity
relief of menopause related symptoms
blood pressure management
reversal of short-term memory loss due to senility or Alzheimer's disease
boosting of the immune system
enhancement of general energy
fertility and sperm count improvement
as an antioxidant
cholesterol count reduction
increased sexual energy
general illness prevention.
Benefits specific to american ginseng:
American ginseng is said to relieve menopausal women of hot flashes, reduce fevers and loosen a dry, hacking cough due to smoking or other factors. American ginseng is used in traditional Chinese medicine for deficiency of energy, internal injuries caused by worry, convalescent weakness, palpitations, insomnia, forgetfulness, and nervousness and to promote general mental and physical well being.
Benefits specific to oriental ginseng:
Oriental ginseng is used as a cardiac tonic for shock and low blood pressure. Widely cultivated, Korean ginseng is now used as a natural preventive, restorative remedy and valued for its adaptogenic properties. Korean ginseng is more stimulating and increases the "yang" energy, while American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) increases the "yin" energy. Korean ginseng is considered most suitable for males and for older people.
Benefits specific to siberian ginseng:
Russian scientists claim that Siberian ginseng aids in memory, stamina and endurance. Siberian ginseng is a staple of athlete's and production workers.
Siberian ginseng contains remarkable compounds that favorably affect the adrenal glands, the small glands that rest atop the kidneys and secrete stress-fighting hormones. Taking the herb is believed to boost the body's capacity to handle physical stresses ranging from heat exposure to extreme exertion. Resistance to disease increases as well. So does one's overall energy level.
All forms of ginseng are said to aid in reducing stress, improving vitality and boosting the immune system. Oriental ginseng, whether white or red, is often taken as a daily tonic with the added benefit of an energy boost.
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